A mexican salad made with Sous Vide Carnitas
I love bacon. I’ve had bacon on just about everything. I love it added to salads, I love it on Sundaes and dipped in peanut butter and then dipped in chocolate. I love it on its own or with a few eggs. I once saw a picture of bacon cooked into pancakes and thought how wonderful. I also admit that I used to feel bad about consuming generous amounts of bacon and other fatty meats as well. After all, doesn’t eating fatty cuts of meat, or even lean cuts of meat lead to increased risk of heart disease?
The answer is resoundingly NO! Recent studies have shown that there is no link between saturated fat and heart disease. There is however evidence that it raises your LDL (aka BAD) cholesterol which is a marker for eventual heart diseases. However, there is more to LDL than we commonly know. LDL is comprised of two particles, a small, dense particle, that is sticky and tends to stick to our artery walls causing a build up and eventually leading to clogged arteries which trigger heart attacks. There is also large, fluffy particles that are buoyant and pass through our bloodstream without causing any damage. The large particles are created by saturated fats, the small particles are not. They are caused by the pancakes, not the bacon inside of them. They are caused by the sugar in the sundae, not the greasy, chewy pieces of bacon on top. Starches have absolutely no place in our diet, but they too are so very tasty. These things, like all things that are bad for you, should be consumed in moderation – alcohol, sugar, bread, pasta, rice. More complex forms of carbohydrates, such as legumes(lentils & beans) are much more beneficial and also provide a less fatty alternative to meat (for those non-meat eaters out there). They are also incredibly fiber-rich, which makes it even better for your body. This is really only one part of the very complex debate over cholesterol, fat, carbs and heart disease. There is so much to it that to get into it here would probably bore you to death well before the heart disease gets you, so I’ll save it for later posts. Let’s talk about the dish above.
When I buy pork shoulder, it is packed with the fat still stuck to it. A few weeks ago I decided to Sous Vide this shoulder as carnitas. I wrapped it in a few strips of smoked bacon, lemon peel, chili powder, garlic and cumin. I sealed the bag and cooked at 160F for about 36 hours. When you open the bag, the meat literally falls off the bone. I then heat a little oil (or bacon grease) on high and drop the pieces in until I get a nice sear. The next plan is just to buy a blow torch and make the top crispy. The salad below is my version of a buritto-less burrito. Makes a great, filling lunch salad and is packed full of protein, but also a ton of non-artery clogging, good ole’ saturated fat.
You can of course, make your carnitas the old fashioned way, but I love the sous vide so those who are into it can try this recipe. Aside from the sous vide preparations, it is super simple. But even the Sous Vide prep and cooking is so simple.
Sous Vide Carnitas
1lb organic* pork shoulder, bone in, fat left on for cooking
2 Strips raw smoked bacon
1 Lemon Peel, grated
1 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Set Sous Vide Machine or Immersion circulator to 160F
Combine all spices together with the lemon peel. Mix Well. Rub spice mixture all around the pork shoulder, Loosely wrap the bacon around the pork shoulder. Place into Sous Vide Bag, vacuum pack and seal. Place bag into Sous Vide Machine. The bag will puff up from moisture, so it’s important to make sure it stays immersed in the water by placing a rack or something overtop of the bag to hold it down. Let cook for 36 hours. Slightly before it finishes cooking, prepare an ice bath. Remove bag from water, and submerge it in the ice bath until completely cook. Open sealed back and remove the pork shoulder. It will probably be falling apart at this point. Remove bacon and discard. (I know, sad right? But the texture wasn’t right for this dish and we just were using the strips for its smokiness. If you feel bad about wasting perfectly good bacon, I suggest using liquid smoke instead, a tsp will do just fine) Use a fork to pull the strands of meat away from the bone. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet with about a tbsp of high smoke point oil on high until it just begins to smoke. Add meat and sear for a few seconds. Remove from heat and serve on top of salad (recipe below)
Serving Size: 1
Protein: varies, but probably somewhere around 30 grams
Carbs: Very few – a couple from the tomatoes and beans, but mostly fiber
Fat: A lot, but again: who cares? (See above)
A handful of Sous Vide Carnitas
a large handful of arugula
1/2 tomato, diced
a few slices of red onion, diced
1/2 avocado, diced
1/2 cup of black beans
The juice of half a lemon
Place the arugula in a large bowl. Add tomato, onion, avocado, black beans and carnitas. Pour a few tbsp of olive oil on top and squeeze half a lemon over the whole salad. Season with sea salt, and enjoy!
*Why Organic Meat? Well, the fat quality is most definitely effected by what that animal ate while being raised. Animals fed grains and other things that are not part of its natural diet make it an unhealthy animal, making the fat equally unhealthy. It’s the same for them as it is for us. Of course, we also have little evidence that even this is true and a recent study I’ve read claims that there is no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic vegetables. However, I still want to make sure that, if I eat meat, it’s produced in a healthy and sustainable environment.
For more information on why fat is good and carbs are bad. I highly recommend reading Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. The book will change the way you think about what we eat.